View all the latest fabrics to arrive at Minerva Crafts... Click here »

Need help? Contact us on 01254 708068 from 9am til 5pm Monday to Friday

Hydrangea Inari Dress

Do you remember why you learned sewing in the first place? One of the reasons I started sewing in my 20s is I wanted to create customised qipaos for myself. Also known as cheongsam, it’s a type of traditional Chinese dress, usually form fitting with side slits for ease of walking. While I love sewing and wearing the elegant qipao, they can be a little over the top for my busy mom life these days :-)
So here comes my dilemma when I laid my eyes on this Lady McElroy Stretch Viscose Fabric - it immediately reminded me of the moody period movies like Wong Kar-wai’s “In the Mood for Love”. Against the black background is the most romantic print of cream hydrangeas and lush sage green leaves. I could see Wong’s elegant 60s beauties swathing in silk qipaos just such, stilettos on pebble stone pavement and everything. The viscose is luxuriously drapey and supple, with just the right amount of stretch to hug the body in a form fitting garment. If you are choosing a fabric for making a modern qipao, it doesn’t get any better than this!
But as much as I’m tempted to sew the qipao of my dreams, I also know it will only be for special occasions at this stage of my life. I love this print too much to leave it in my closet. I need a dress that is casual enough for everyday wear but still has that romantic elegance.
While browsing my pattern collection I came upon the classic Inari Tee Dress by Named Clothing and a light bulb came on. I’ve always loved the clean lines of Inari with the split hem but only made it with knit fabric before. Using a drapey woven fabric will give it a very different feel - almost a modern rendition of the qipao without the constraint of fitted waistline and high collar.
Once the idea struck, I dived into the making process and the dress came together in a few hours. Named clothing always has a way or making their pattern constructions simple yet effective. The Inari is really as simple as a shirt dress could be in terms of construction. Yet the subtle cocoon shape and the forward-curving side seams are masterfully drafted.
I shortened the dress an inch at the hip line as I am 158cm tall. I also added inseam pockets because those sloping side seams are just the perfect place for hands to go! I used my all time favourite inseam pocket piece (yes that’s a thing!) from the Chalk and Notch Fringe dress, and simply modified the pocket opening to match Inari’s side seam. Because of the drapey fabric, I applied some narrow interfacing to the pocket opening to give it some support and prevent it from stretching out.
A word on the Lady McElroy stretch viscose base itself. I love all things viscose but this one is currently a firm favourite of mine. I have reviewed it in the “Cygnus Return” print earlier and will gladly sew another dozen of garments in this wonderful fabric. It has all the drapey silky characteristics of viscose but cuts and sews more like a mid weight cotton with minimal shifting and slipping. Also did I mention there’s STREeeeetch? Not often do you come across a good natural fibre woven with built in stretch and recovery. Lady McElroy really nailed it in this lovely substrate.
This stretch content comes in hand with the Inari pattern if you had concerns with its higher than usual sleeve heads. I personally love the Inari sleeves and think they really make the dress, if you know what I mean. But I get it that Inari is initially drafted from knits and the sleeves can be a little restrictive for certain body types and movements. This stretch viscose seems to be the perfect solution for the woven Inari sleeve ease problem!
It is love at first wear with my hydrangea Inari dress. All the romantic moods of the 60s qipao but not one form fitting seam to contend with. Casual and comfy for a hot summer day outside but still elegant and sophisticated enough for a night out. Who said you can't sew cake and frosting all together? 
Until next time,

Comments (0)

Please signin to leave a comment